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Rwanda Election: Kagame Eyes Landslide Victory For Third Term

Rwandans are voting today in presidential elections, with incumbent Paul Kagame widely expected to win his third term in office.

The 59-year-old is being challenged by Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana.

Kagame is credited with the country’s rapid economic development since taking office in 2000.

But critics accuse him of suppressing dissent and political freedoms.

Polls across the country opened at 07:00 (05:00 GMT) and will close at 16:00.

Kagame, who represents the ruling RPF party, has widespread vocal support, the BBC’s Tomi Oladipo says.

The president has even referred to the vote as a mere formality, BBC adds.

Rwanda’s constitution was amended in 2015, giving Kagame a chance to stay in power until 2034.

The two challengers have complained that their supporters are being intimidated, which they say explains the low turnout at their pre-election rallies.

The candidates have also accused some local authorities of undermining their campaign.

The ruling party denies any accusations of wrongdoing.

Although Kagame is widely popular, international rights observers have expressed concern over the political environment in which Friday’s vote takes place.

Last month, Amnesty International warned Rwanda’s elections risk being held under “a climate of fear created by years of repression” due to alleged state intimidation of opposition.

Sarah Jackson, deputy director for Amnesty International’s East Africa office called on the international community to remain watchful.

“In the immediate run-up to the elections, Rwanda’s international partners with a presence in the country should continue to closely monitor the situation and speak out about any violations they observe,” she said in an email to Aljazeera.

Agencies

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